A U.S. judge has approved Apple’s $450-million proposed payment to settle an anti-trust lawsuit in which the tech titan was accused of being the ringleader in a plot involving five major publishers to raise eBook prices.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, during a hearing in Manhattan, called the deal an “unusually structured settlement, especially for one arrived at on the eve of trial.”
Apple, according to the settlement, would pay $400 million to 23 million consumers. The remaining $50 million would be used to cover legal fees.
Cote rendered a guilty verdict against Apple last summer, saying the Department of Justice proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Apple “played a central role in facilitating and executing” the eBook conspiracy adding that, without Apple, the “conspiracy, would not have succeeded as it did.”
The government filed its lawsuit against Apple and five publishers April 11, 2012, accusing the group of not only plotting to eradicate retail price competition, but of forcing customers to fork out more for their eBooks. The department’s Anti-trust Division previously settled its claims against Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc. and Macmillan Publishers early last year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook for months refused point-blank to settle with the government because he insisted his company was not guilty of wrongdoing. Cook, at the time, said the U.S. Justice Department asked the company to sign a document admitting guilty, something he refused to do.
The intervening months obviously led Cook to believe he was fighting a losing battle.
There is still some hope for Apple, however. The company appealed Cote’s ruling and, if the appeal is approved, the iPhone maker could reach a settlement in which it would pay $50 million to consumers and $20 million in legal fees.